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Crew Tries to Sailing Record

August 9, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ An international crew of sailors left New York Harbor on Thursday in an attempt to break an 11-year-old trans-Atlantic sailing record that has withstood several challenges.

Team Adventure, a 110-foot catamaran that can travel the equivalent of 50 mph, sailed out to sea at 3:03 p.m. after waiting weeks for ideal weather conditions.

The record is held by the catamaran Jet Services V, which crossed the ocean in 6 days, 13 hours, 3 minutes and 32 seconds in 1990. Nine multi-hulled vessels have since failed to break the record set by the French skipper Serge Madek.

``We’ve spent four months preparing for this and we’re ready to go,″ said Team Adventure’s co-skipper Cam Lewis.

Lewis, of Lincolnville, Maine, and co-skipper Laurent Bourgnon, a French sailor and engineer, fell just short of the record in 1999 when they lost wind 46 miles from the finish.

If all goes as planned, the crew would arrive at the Lizard Lighthouse, which marks the western end of the English channel, on Aug. 15.

Roger Caille, former president of the French courier service Jet Services, will award the crew a prize of 200,000 francs, the equivalent of $26,000, if a record is set. The courier service sponsored the current record-holder.

Team Adventure’s all-male crew consists of seasoned mariners from France, New Zealand and the United States. Lewis and Bourgnon already hold the record for westward trans-Atlantic sailing. Lewis also won the first Trophee Jules Verne for the world’s fastest circumnavigation in 1993.

Crew member Randy Smyth, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., has won two Olympic medals and dozens of world and national championships. He said that after sailing around the world, a 3,000-mile trans-Atlantic trip seems less daunting.

``After you get around Cape Horn and you survive the Southern ocean and all the icebergs and treachery down there,″ he said, ``really, the Atlantic would be hard-pressed to dish out that kind of excitement.″

The vessel, which can sail almost twice as fast as the wind under ideal conditions, has already traveled around the world. Smyth said the crew is confident in its durability and engineering.

``We can just put the pedal to the metal and go as fast as we can 24 hours a day,″ Smyth said, ``and we’re not being held back by the boat.″

The vessel consists of two white hulls joined by a giant rectangle of sturdy mesh. The 150-foot mast towers above the boat.

A white bulb-like antennae in the stern provides the boat with Internet access, and three computers generate navigational and meteorological information.

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